Sharrows Advocates Fall Short
The motoring public can breath easy tonight; Sharrows in Corona del Mar are at least temporarily delayed, if not totally dead and we can thank our very own Bike Safety Committee for saving us from this safety improvement. (What’s a Sharrow? Read this earlier post.)
Ironically, if we didn’t have a Bike Safety Committee we’d already have Sharrows on Coast Hwy through Corona del Mar.
City Manager Dave Kiff gave off hints quite awhile ago. The City is ready to paint them; they know the costs. They’re prepared to combine it with other striping that’s designed to make some critical intersections safer for cyclists, but our own committee feels it’s not safe for cyclists.
“We haven’t explored an alternative route,” is Tony Petros’ confuse and deflect strategy. “I saw horrible traffic on the Memorial Day weekend, when traffic was virtually stopped in CdM,” is Denis LaBonge’s reason for protecting us from cars; never mind that slow traffic, which is what comes with heavy traffic, isn’t so dangerous to cyclists – it’s high speed traffic that’s gonna get you. John Heffernan complained about two young women riding their bikes on Bayside Drive, enjoying the Sharrows, but apparently unaware that John was in his car waiting impatiently behind them – I guess the inference here is that the bad behavior of these two justifies denying all cyclists a well proven safety feature on Coast Hwy. Here’s how the cookie crumbled tonight:
Denis LaBonge: no
Tony Petros: no
John Heffernan: no
Sean Matsler: yes
Stephen Sholkoff: yes
Barbara Danzi: absent
You can’t take Sharrows to the City Council when you don’t have a consensus from your ‘advocates’, Committee Chair, Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner was quick to assess. Instead she proposed sitting on the issue for now – I suppose so it can die a quiet death from neglect, unlike going out in a fireball as I’m trying here.
Me, I’m not on the Committee; previously I was a member of the Bike Safety Task Force when I discovered the work that Charlie Gandy and others in Long Beach had done to innovate for bike safety. Yes, I know; Belmont Shore is different from Corona del Mar. It’s not a State Highway and our traffic volumes are heavier, not to mention the speed limit – 35 in CdM while the lights are timed at 6 mph in Belmont Shore. But the comparison that comes to mind for me tonight is the commitment from the top; Long Beach has it and we fell short.
In an upcoming interview with Portland’s Mia Birk, you’ll hear her boil it all down to a single issue: resistance to change. Today Portland is rated Platinum as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists, but it didn’t start out that way. Mia joined the City as a humble bike advocate and had to deal with bigger setbacks than this during her 6 years in government. It takes time and it takes patience; it’s a game of inches.
Everyone had their chance to speak tonight. If there had been even 20 or 30 bike enthusiasts in the audience the issue might have had a chance; instead, it went down to a quiet defeat.
Bikes in Lane sign designed by Cheryl Schmitt, Transportation Coordinator, City of Santa Cruz. See Cheryl’s interview here.